Transnet manager’s court bombshell

Date: 09 Oct 2019

A FRESH scandal has rocked Transnet after a court application lodged by a senior manager in the company.

In the application filed at the Durban High Court over alleged irregular payments amounting to millions made to contractors of the New Multi-Product Pipeline project, Phumlani Khubeka, a project director at the parastatal, says the project had been mired in corruption and poor workmanship.

The project is meant to link underground fuel and gas pipelines between Durban and Gauteng.

In court papers, Kubheka alleges that he reported corruption at the stateowned enterprise (SOE) back in October 2015 when he discovered that R463 million was paid to a contractor for the accumulator tanks in the Coastal Terminal in Durban.

“The workmanship was so poor that the final product had to be destroyed,” he said.

In court papers, Kubheka maintains that the first phase of the investigation indicated there were acts of corruption and that the probe needed to be widened after an independent forensic report compiled by Nexus which this paper is in possession of.

He further claims that the chief capital officer of Transnet at the time did not carry out a further investigation when the findings were made in the Nexus report.

As a result, no one was held accountable for the loss arising out of the complete failure of the project.

“In some instances, I found that payments were released for work not done,” he said.

In his comprehensive founding affidavit, Kubheka listed Transnet as the first respondent and IGS Consulting Engineers and Turnmill Proquip Engineering PTY as the second and third respondents respectively.

According to court papers, IGS Consulting Engineers and Turnmill Proquip Engineering were appointed as a Joint Venture under the name; IGS Joint Venture to perform work that was approved by Transnet’s National Acquisition Council.

Kubheka claims Transnet failed to execute its mandate as the accountable SOE when it prevented a further investigation into alleged acts of corruption which he uncovered as a project director in the company involving the respondents who won the contracts under a joint venture initiative.

He also claims that up until now, Transnet neglected to carry out the necessary tight-lining work needed to bypass the defective accumulator tanks at the Coastal Terminal.

“These accumulator tanks needed to be demolished and declared unlawful,” he said.

Kubheka further states that when he reported these acts of corruption to his superiors, he was later placed on suspension.

This after Nexus investigations resulted in inconclusive findings that the construction of the accumulator tanks would have to be investigated once again from inception, with the specific focus on the payment, quality control and processes, timelines and role to which each individual in the project was assigned.

Meanwhile, the Nexus report tabled in January 2016 states that there was substantial evidence to support the allegations that payments preceded construction progress.

“There was also oral evidence that payments were made ahead of progress in the construction of the accumulator tanks,” read the court papers.

Kubheka also revealed that he was shifted from his position as project director in early 2017 and had been frustrated ever since, eventually leading to his suspension in March 2019 this year.

He claims that these troubles culminated when he uncovered that a further R44 million was paid to a contractor by Transnet for another tank known as T2108 which again had to be demolished, amounting to another wasteful and irregular expense incurred by the SOE.

In response to questions, Transnet’s spokesperson, Molatwane Likhethe said the SOE was still in the process of challenging the application in court.

The company added that it could not respond to some of the allegations made at this point, as this matter is sub judice.

By Ayanda Mdluli

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